Just When You Thought | Opinion

Photo by Zebra48bo, via Wikimedia Commons.

Just when you thought that the Catholic Church, under Pope Francis, was slowly moving toward some form of acceptance of the LGBTQ community, this, surprisingly happens.

According to several news outlets Pope Francis has used a highly derogatory term towards the LGBTQ community as he reiterated in a closed-door meeting with Italian bishops, that gay people should not be allowed to become priests.

On Monday local time, local Italian media publications La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera, Italy's largest circulation dailies, both quoted the pope as saying seminaries, or priesthood colleges, are already too full of "frociaggine" — a highly vulgar Italian term, equivalent to fags.

La Repubblica attributed its story to several unspecified sources, while Corriere said it was backed up by a few unnamed bishops, who suggested the pope, as an Argentine, might have not realized the Italian term he used was offensive. Frociaggine comes from the Italian word FROCIO a typical expression of Rome and the Lazio region to insult gays, although its use is widespread throughout Italy. Its origin, despite the efforts of many specialists, is unclear, since lies in the scope of the Roman dialect slang, which leaves no written documents. The spread of the term in Italy came after World War II due to neorealist movies and novels. In any case, different explanations focus on several issues common to other expressions worldwide and more specific.

The excuse that the Pope was born in Argentina does not hold since his family roots are well planted into Italian life and after so many years in Italy he should know better.

I’m an atheist and have despised every Pope until now. Pope Francis with his actions and words appealed to me from the start, he has said homosexuality is not a crime, and made several attempts to show a welcoming approach towards the LGBTQ community.

Political gossip website Dagospia was the first to report on the alleged incident, said to have happened on May 20, when the Italian Bishops Conference opened a four-day assembly with a non-public meeting with the pontiff.

In 2013, at the start of his papacy, he famously said, "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?", while last year he allowed priests to bless members of same-sex couples, triggering substantial conservative backlash.

Nevertheless, he delivered a similar message on gay seminarians — minus the reported swear word — when he met Italian bishops in 2018, telling them to carefully vet priesthood applicants and reject any suspected homosexuals.

In a 2005 document, released under Francis's late predecessor Benedict XVI, the Vatican said the church could admit into the priesthood those who had clearly overcome homosexual tendencies for at least three years. And so it goes, it never ends, the backlashes keep coming back. Hopefully it's only a momentary lapse. We may not be the “love that no longer speaks its name,” but we are still not the love getting stamped with the Good Housekeeping seal of approval. We still don’t have a seat at the table and seeing how things are going we may not want one for now.

After the whole thing blew up the Vatican released the following standard statement (it is extremely rare for a pope to issue a public apology):

"The pope never intended to offend or express himself in homophobic terms, and he apologizes to those who felt offended by the use of a term reported by others," said Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni.

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